When Amanda emailed me about an opportunity to visit the Muhammad Ali Center for a few days, the first things that registered in my head were a trip to Kentucky and no school. I did not know everything that Rumble Young Man Rumble had in store for us, but it far surpassed my expectations.
When we landed, we met with a friend of Christina’s who began to shed light on Muhammad Ali’s legacy beyond the ring. I always knew he was an incredible athlete, but I never knew that he was such a massive force for social change. Visiting the Muhammad Ali Center was really interesting because there’s a lot about Muhammad Ali that people probably don’t know, like his deep spirituality and his battle with Islamophobia from both whites and blacks.
Rumble Young Man Rumble was built around his six guiding principles: Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Respect, Spirituality, and Giving. Each day of the conference we learned more about what these principles truly meant alongside other young men of color. We had interesting debates, thoughtful conversations, and even built an art project together, all to understand these principles. We shared our stories, our thoughts, and our feelings with each other. In such a short period of time, we were able to create a safe space where everyone felt comfortable sharing how we felt.
It was incredible to be surrounded by so much black excellence, and even more incredible to see how much unconditional love and support these black men and women showed for each other. I felt like I was surrounded by family the entire time. When I was asked to stand up and share my wildest dream of becoming the face of technology, I got emotional at how much support these people were showing me. They didn’t even know me, but they had faith that I would do great things. I was able witness that weekend how far that support could take someone, because on the last night of the trip my best friend Mamadou was accepted to Stanford University as an Early Action applicant. Everyone in the airport must’ve heard us scream when we found out that he got in. I’ll never forget that moment, and I bet that Mamadou won’t either.
Rumble taught me that as an intellectual black man, it is essential to fight, but also to make sure that I have people in my corner to pick me up when I’m down, and people who can heal me when I’m hurt. I’m so grateful for the chance to participate in Rumble Young Man Rumble V, and I’ll never forget those six principles.
Lastly, the best part of Rumble, arguably, is the way we ended each day. We all stood up and yelled: RUMBLE YOUNG MAN RUMBLE!!! AHHHHH!!!